Knock, Knock

Written by consiliumclub on . Posted in A Little Connection, by Jen Richards Little, MSPT, CST

We recently reorganized our basement.

We had three big shelving units in the little alcove at the bottom of the stairs, storing our holiday decorations, random dishes, luggage and random crap that had accumulated there. Our scuba diving dry suits were hanging in another corner of the main area with the rest of the gear in assorted bins on the floor. The air hockey table kept the air handler company, and our work out equipment was gathered in another. Dave, my husband has a workshop for woodworking and assorted house projects in the other end. And I can’t forget that my son Ryan had unpacked the train that is supposed to go around a Christmas tree and set it up amongst the work out gear, stacking all the free weights in the center as a “camp fire”.

There is a lot going on in our basement. Storage, exercise, play, wood working.

My husband was getting annoyed that there was always a huge pile of stuff (I have changed the wording here somewhat) in the area at the bottom of the stairs. He was feeling that the area for storage was too small for what we needed, so that stuff ended up on the floor and not always put away promptly. He had an idea that if we changed the storage to be more linear against the back wall, we could reorganize it to put the stuff we used most where we could get at it, we would have enough room to get boxes down and back up, and it would not longer be the first thing you see when you come down the stairs.

So we spent an afternoon taking everything off the shelves, moving the shelving units, throwing away trash, recycling what we could, and reorganizing so that everything had a place. We decided that we need to put a wall up to separate the sawdust from the rest of the basement (a project for a later date), and we moved the dry suits in front of where the wall will be, and moved the rest of the gear onto the shelving unit we freed up by throwing away stuff. The mini home gym is now the first thing you see when you come down the stairs, and the main area of the basement is open floor space and everything just functions, looks and feels better.

An instructor I had years ago used to say that he thought of a client’s body like a house, that all the different parts of the body were like different rooms. And when he would put his hands on the client, he connected with their tissues as if he was a guest walking into their house. Respectfully taking a look around, he would say, to find the areas that were not moving, and then helping them to move, the same way a nice neighbor comes over to help move furniture or help to fix a leaky pipe.

As I walk into our basement now, I think of that instructor, and how reorganizing our basement is a lot like physical therapy.

Fascial restrictions, dysfunctional joint mechanics, poor postural habits, lymphatic congestion, are all things that stack up in our bodies that impair functional movement. Just like the crap that accumulates in a basement. It’s the stuff we don’t want to deal with, or only partially deal with, like an achy joint for example, that we ignore, promising to “deal with it later”, until it’s so painful that we physically can not move anymore, and “later” becomes “now”. Then we finally decide it’s time to “deal with it”.

And just like my instructor, I see myself as a guest in the client’s house when I connect with their tissues. A guest who cleans. Systematically going through every room, helping the body organize, flush, and cleanse, until the tissues are moving smoothly again. Then I graciously say “thank you for having me, goodbye,” and I exit the house.

I find it really interesting that, now, every time I go down there, I have a brief moment of disorientation. I expect the old messy disorganized space and it takes a moment to register the new location of everything. I have clients say similar things to me. “I didn’t think I could move that way anymore,” or, “right in the middle of what I was doing, I realized it didn’t hurt anymore,” that sort of thing. It takes the brain longer to catch up, to unlearn the old ways and old movement patterns and old expectations. I could talk about neuromuscular junctions and nerve pathways and limiting beliefs and all that stuff, but really it comes down to basements and attics. The brain is in the attic and sometimes if you are in the attic you can’t really hear what’s going on in the rest of the house, so it takes a little longer to get the message if someone is having a conversation in the basement.

I have been surprised at how cleaning our basement seems to have impacted the workings in the rest of the house. I needed some paperwork, and was able to find it right away. I wanted to exercise again. My husband went to the basement for a tool, and was not annoyed when he came out of the basement. Things that are subtle, but those things really make a big difference in decreasing our overall frustration levels, and increase our enjoyment of life. Just like my clients when they no longer have pain with certain movements or limited movements. The scales are tipped towards enjoying life rather than suffering through it.

And isn’t that what living is all about?

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